Question: Do our past lives have any effect on our present lives?Sri Chinmoy: Certainly, on the whole, we are carrying the past inside us. There is a continuous flow from past to present. As you sow, so shall you reap. Whatever you have done in your past incarnations will be given to you by God in this incarnation as a result. The fruit of karma, I must say, in the case of an ordinary, unaspiring person, is unavoidable.
But I always say, "The past is dust." I say it because the past has not made you what you want to be. If you care for the past, and if you go backward (our race is forward and not backward), perhaps you will see that in one of your incarnations you were a thief or someone abominable. Again, if you enter into one of your past incarnations and see that you were President of the United States at one time, what happens? When you enter into the inner world, you will see that the President was filled with miseries and he was not satisfied. None of this knowledge gives you joy. An aspirant wants inner joy. So, if you enter into the thief incarnation you will be miserable, and in the President incarnation you will also be miserable. When a seeker enters truly into the spiritual path, he has to go forward with his own aspiration, concentration and meditation. If he had actually begun his life of aspiration in one of his previous incarnations, he will usually have started aspiring in his present life at a very young age. If somebody was spiritually sincere in his last life, he will not wait until old age to start his spiritual life of Yoga again.
Now it may happen that circumstances in the new life are bad; the environment is not encouraging. So, he will have to go more slowly and steadily, because he does not get enough help from his parents. But, if he was a great aspirant and did not realise God, then in that case he will come into a very high spiritual family and he will enter early into the spiritual life. Most of the great spiritual Masters entered into very high spiritual families. But God's Play is not bound by any plan and it is also possible that He will send a spiritual Master into a very unaspiring family. When an aspirant enters into the true spiritual life, then the law of karma, if it is his bad karma, can be negated and nullified. Otherwise, the law of karma is really merciless. You have to pay the tax; there is no other way. And only God's infinite Grace can nullify the result of bad karma and expedite the result of good karma. So here the aspirant gets the opportunity to go faster with the help of God's boundless Grace. If one really wants the spiritual life, then by sincere practice every day, one can, to some extent, stand above the law of karma, for God is bound to shower His boundless Grace on the devoted head and heart of the aspirant. But if you are an ordinary man, you have to abide by the law of karma. Fortunately, you are a true aspirant.